With blow bars popping up everywhere, salon owners are recognizing the financial opportunity
Once thought to have gone the way of the roller set, the traditional brush and dryer blowout is making a comeback.
Blow-dry bars have been opening across North America, starting in 2005 with the original, Blow, The New York Blow Dry Bar. In Canada, competitor Blo Bar has four locations in Vancouver and eight in Toronto.
Looks are completed in about 30 minutes for $30 to $60 — walk-ins welcome. At most bars, though, don’t go looking for shears or hair colour. According to Blo spokeswoman Hilary Chan-Kent, “Blo does one thing and does it well: a perfect blowout.”
Business is Blowing While doing blowouts may not be the main core of a salon business, for the savvy owner or manager, it can be a boon — especially in tough economic times.
It was that financial reality that prompted Luis Pacheco to open up a previously unused, dedicated space on the third floor of his salon for blowouts. The owner of Hair on the Avenue in Toronto started his blow bar in 2008.
Newly licensed stylists would start at the salon assisting senior stylists and spending six to eight weeks learning how to blow-dry. After a two-month period, they begin working at the blow bar, in addition to assisting.
With this change to the business, the salon was able to lower the price point of a blow-dry to $29 all-inclusive, and promise customers they would be in and out in 30 minutes. “The client reception was amazing. They returned to having their hair done here, where they were familiar with the professional products and staff,” Pacheco says.
Tips on giving your clients great style
Ludovic Jan, owner of Opus Salon in Vancouver, is known for his blowouts. He credits his training in Europe, where he was taught to use only styling products, his brush and blow-dryer to complete the job — no irons allowed. Here’s how to get a Jan-worthy blowout:
1. Have a plan
“Doing a blow-dry is like doing a cut,” says Jan. “Based on the style you want to achieve, know where to start on the head and then section very well. So many stylists do poor sectioning and don’t have a plan when they start.”
“Pre-drying before giving form to the hair is extremely important. Most stylists either don’t dry enough, or dry too much, and it makes their work twice as hard,” he says. Pre-drying is almost an art form, because the amount to dry the hair varies on the type of style and the thickness and texture of the locks. With practise, stylists can determine the perfect moisture level by feel.
3. Practise, practise, practise
“The number one priority is to practise—on friends, parents, mannequin heads, anyone,” says Jan. “Usually, the reason a stylist hates blow-drying is because they don’t know how to do it. When you know how to do it, you love it because you always get the perfect result you are looking for.”
4. Know your products
“Choosing a good styling product is key. I choose based on the style the client wants and the type of hair, sometimes mixing different products. Depending on the finish, I use three to four products on each client,” he says.